Apple is bringing its 3D maps to more cities within the Apple Maps app, including London, LA, New York and San Francisco. The experience, launching with iOS 15, follows several years of investment in Apple’s mapping platform to make the app more competitive with the market leader, Google Maps. This has included not only the addition of 3D maps, like those arriving now to major markets, but also overall more detailed maps, improved transit features, AR viewing modes and more.
Many of these features have taken time to roll out, with major metros around the U.S. and world being the first to gain the enhancements. AR viewing, for instance, only began launching to select cities this year.
With 3D maps, however, Apple Maps users will be able to see more details for areas across the city, including their neighborhoods, commercial districts, marinas, buildings and more, the company says, along with elevation details, new road labels and even custom-designed landmarks.
For example, Apple Maps will show renderings for famous spots, like Coit Tower in San Francisco, Dodger Stadium in LA, the Statue of Liberty in NYC and the Royal Albert Hall in London, with more landmarks to come in time.
Later this year, these sorts of 3D maps will become available in Philadelphia, San Diego and Washington, D.C., Apple says. Then, next year, they’ll arrive in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Apple is also enhancing its road-level navigation in Apple Maps, with more clearly displayed turn lanes, medians, bus and taxi lanes, and crosswalks. These appear in a 3D viewing mode which makes it easier to see the best lane to choose based on traffic conditions or for better route planning purposes. The app will also display the estimated time of arrival, based on the current conditions, as Google Maps does. This new navigation, which was previously announced for a 2021 release, will arrive in CarPlay later this year, Apple said, without giving a more specific deadline.
Similarly, other major maps updates, which had been announced earlier this year, are also now rolling out. This includes transit features designed to make Apple Maps more competitive with third-party apps often favored by transit takers, like Citymapper. Now, nearby transit stations are prominently displayed at the top of the screen and users can pin favorite lines in Maps for easy access. And once a route is selected, Maps will automatically notify users when it’s time to disembark — something users can track on their Apple Watch, too.
Apple Maps offers more immersive walking directions with step-by-step guidance powered by augmented reality. This allows users to raise their phone to scan the buildings in their area, which lets Maps generate a more accurate position in order to provide more detailed guidance. This has been rolling out to select markets over the course of the year.
In addition, iOS 15 users can view a new 3D globe of the earth and they can tap an Explore Guides button in the Apple Maps app to access curated Guides from brands like Time Out, The Washington Post, the National Park Foundation, Complex and The Infatuation. These will offer suggestions about things to do or see in various cities worldwide. Users can also make guides of their own to share with friends and family.